Stacey Kent: The Ice Hotel


The Ice Hotel


Stacey Kent (vocals)


Breakfast on the Morning Tram (Blue Note 50999)

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Stacey Kent (vocals),

Graham Harvey (piano), John Parricelli (guitar), Dave Chamberlain (bass), Matt Skelton (drums, percussion)


Composed by Kazuo Ishiguro & Jim Tomlinson


Recorded: England, March-April 2007


Rating: 97/100 (learn more)

Stacey Kent's Breakfast on the Morning Tram has been nominated for a 2009 Grammy Award as Best Vocal Jazz Album, and the composition "The Ice Hotel," with intriguing lyrics by novelist Kazuo Ishiguro (The Remains of the Day) and music by the singer's husband Jim Tomlinson, won the 2007 International Songwriting Competition in the jazz category. Those unaware may assume that "The Ice Hotel" is a clever Cole Porter-like fantasy, but in truth the original Ice Hotel (yes, there are others!) is above the Arctic Circle in a Swedish village, and is elaborately sculptured entirely of snow and ice. "The bed you sleep on," vows the ICEHOTEL web site, "consists of an ice block and a thick mattress, covered with reindeer skins. You sleep in a sleeping bag." Inside, "the temperature is never colder than -5C to -8C." Sound comfy? Even so, you are warned, "If you take your luggage with you to your room, it will freeze."

Kent's girlish yet knowing voice, falling as it does somewhere between Karrin Allyson and Blossom Dearie, is perfect for this oddly romantic track. "What other place could serve our needs so well / Let's you and me go away to The Ice Hotel." Harvey's cascading piano intro precedes Kent's silky vocal, with the pianist then providing an effective repeated motif. Tomlinson's arrangement slides the piece in and out of a Latin rhythm, as guitar fills and then a brief but pleasing guitar solo enters the mix. Kent now resumes her seductive proposal: "This is no whim of the moment / I want you to realize / Let's go away to that palace made of ice." If there were still such a thing as standards, this offbeat creation could very well become one.

Reviewer: Scott Albin

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